On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
Jack Kerouac modeled Sal Paradise after himself. It kind of makes sense now that you think about that whole first-person narrator business.
Dean Moriarty is modeled after Neal Cassady. Well who was Neal Cassady? Glad you asked. Neal was a good friend of Kerouac as well as an auto thief. He also may have had elements of Dean’s madness.
The character Carlo Marx was modeled after Allen Ginsberg. Yes, the great Beat poet and author of super famous “Howl.” Lots of people say that On the Road is the prose equivalent of "Howl" – both are poster pieces for the Beat Generation.
William Burroughs was the inspiration for Bull Lee. Burroughs was a fellow Beat writer and intense drug user. Hi wife, Joan Vollmer, was the model for Jane Lee.
Remi Boncœur was modeled after Henri Cru. Hence the French. Henri went to prep school with Kerouac (Horace Mann School in New York) and introduced him to Edie Parker, Kerouac’s first wife. The whole guard in the barracks gig? That did happen.
Marylou, Dean's first wife, was modeled after LuAnne Henderson. LuAnne married Neal (or Dean) when she was only fifteen.
The character Camille was inspired by Carolyn Cassady. Carolyn was Dean’s second wife.
Diana Hansen, after whom Inez was modeled, was Dean’s third wife, who lived in New York.
Laura was modeled after Joan Haverty (or Joan Kerouac after their marriage). Joan was wife number two for Kerouac. Although Sal’s relationship with Laura seems hunky dory at the end of On the Road, in real life, Joan and Jack were only married for a few months.
In Part IV, Chapter Two, Sal sings a short song about nowhere being home for him. Singer Tom Waits recorded a song using those lyrics, and released it in 2006. The song is called "On the Road."
Anyone know the movie Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead? Yep – that title came from the poem Sal recites to himself in Part III, Chapter I: "Down in Denver, down in Denver / All I did was die. " Check out the movie here
You know that part of the text at the end of Part I when the character Rickey rambles on about mañana? And then a few pages later, Sal sings a few lines of a song: "The window she is broke and the rain she is coming in"? Well that’s a song called "Mañana." Kerouac tried to slip it by us.
Kerouac wrote On the Road in only a few weeks on one long scroll of typewriter paper without paragraph, page, or chapter breaks. This original scroll sold for $2.43 million to Jim Irsay, owner of the Indiana Colts, at an auction in 2001.